When a Tree Falls
A madcap love story involving New Jersey government officials caught up in entrapment, corruption, and extortion
by Beatriz Rivera
Published: March 31, 2010
Bind: Trade Paperback
Otilia Mancuso is a self-professed Xanax poster girl who works, sleeps, breathes, loves and bribes in Hudson County. She has lived in a high rise next to the Holland Tunnel ever since she was elected to the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Her sudden and unexpected election—to a seat vacated by the untimely death of her predecessor in a sleazy motel—made her the first woman to be elected legislator at the county level.
But now, all Otilia wants is to click her heels together and disappear from the mess she’s in. Her lover, a charming psychiatrist who provides millions of dollars worth of services to county facilities, convinces her to deliver an envelope full of money to the county executive. Soon, Otilia finds herself charged with four counts of aiding and abetting extortion and three counts of mail fraud.
Cuban-American writer Beatriz Rivera serves up another offbeat love story full of oddball characters in absurd situations: Dr. Chico Chanca, a clog-wearing, tea-drinking psychiatrist obsessed with yoga, financial success, and cheap-motel sex; his gorgeous wife Laura, a passionate animal rights advocate and brilliant veterinarian with a predilection for expensive designer clothing, organic food, and breast implants; and Amber Delrío, the owner of Sacred Greens Farm and a yoga school who has taken an eternal vow of chastity.
Loosely based on the machinations of New Jersey politicians, the off-the-wall antics of Rivera’s eccentric characters are sure to entertain and amuse.
BEATRIZ RIVERA cleverly conveys the experience of the Latina woman attempting to reconcile her heritage and her existence within the greater construct of the American society in her short stories and novels. Rivera’s characters draw from their distinctive backgrounds to forge a bi-cultural image of themselves and their communities.
Rivera’s three works eloquently demonstrate Rivera’s humor and spirit. Rivera followed her collection of short stories, African Passions, with her novel Midnight Sandwiches at the Mariposa Express (Arte Público Press, 1997). In 2000, Arte Público Press released her third work, a novel entitled Playing with Light. In all three books, Rivera creates a funny yet realistic portrait of the Cuban American female struggling to find her place in the American Dream. Her latest novel, Do Not Pass Go (Arte Público Press, 2006), is about an unlikely love affair between a former child prodigy and a newspaper reporter.
In 2002, Rivera completed her Ph.D. in Spanish Literature on Challenging the Canon: A History of Latina Literature Anthologies, 1980-2000 at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. She is an Assistant Professor at Penn State University and lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.